Cybersecurity Frequently Asked Questions
Cybersecurity is replete with acronyms and technical terminology, and because it’s an ever-evolving industry, it’s challenging to know what everything is and what it means. These FAQs were written to help you easily find and understand the latest terms, technologies and threats.
For over 20 years, Nuspire has been revolutionizing the cybersecurity experience by offering customized services that meet our clients where they are in their security journey. Nuspire’s people-first approach goes beyond a traditional MSSP model. Guided by its deep bench of experts and a technology-agnostic approach, Nuspire acts as a true partner and extension of our clients’ teams – providing them with the expertise, capabilities and visibility they need to remain secure.
Nuspire offers a full complement of cybersecurity services to address the specific needs of organizations large and small:
An MSSP (Managed Security Services Provider) is a specialized third-party organization that offers a range of managed cybersecurity services to help organizations protect their digital assets, systems, networks and data from cyber threats. MSSPs provide expertise, technologies and resources to monitor, detect, respond to and mitigate various security incidents and vulnerabilities.
Key aspects of an MSSP include:
- Threat Monitoring: MSSPs continuously monitor an organization's IT environment for security threats, anomalies and suspicious activities.
- Intrusion Detection and Prevention: MSSPs use advanced tools and technologies to identify and prevent unauthorized access and malicious activities.
- Vulnerability Management: MSSPs assess and manage vulnerabilities in systems and applications to reduce the risk of exploitation.
- Incident Response: They have trained professionals who can respond swiftly to security incidents, investigate breaches and implement appropriate mitigation measures.
- Threat Intelligence: MSSPs stay up-to-date with the latest threat intelligence and attack trends to enhance their detection and response capabilities.
- Security Analysis and Reporting: They provide organizations with regular reports on security events, vulnerabilities, and incident response activities.
- Compliance Support: MSSPs assist organizations in achieving regulatory compliance by implementing security controls and practices.
- 24/7 Coverage: Many MSSPs offer round-the-clock monitoring and support to ensure prompt responses to threats and incidents.
- Consulting Support: In some cases, MSSPs offer a suite of consulting services like vCISO, threat modeling, incident readiness and security posture assessments.
Organizations often partner with MSSPs to leverage their specialized skills, technologies and experience in cybersecurity. MSSPs help organizations bolster their security posture, reduce risks and navigate the evolving threat landscape while allowing internal teams to focus on core business activities.
Managed security services (MSS) encompass a range of outsourced cybersecurity solutions and practices offered by Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs). These services are designed to help organizations protect their digital assets, networks, systems and data from various cyber threats and security risks. Managed security services provide organizations with expertise, tools, technologies and resources they might not have in-house, enabling them to enhance their security posture and respond effectively to evolving threats.
Key components of managed security services include:
- Threat Detection and Monitoring: MSSPs continuously monitor an organization's IT environment for signs of malicious activities, unauthorized access, and unusual behaviors.
- Incident Response: MSSPs offer incident response services to promptly detect, analyze, and mitigate security incidents and breaches.
- Vulnerability Management: They identify and manage vulnerabilities in systems and applications to reduce the risk of exploitation.
- Security Information and Event Management (SIEM): MSSPs leverage SIEM technologies to collect, analyze and correlate security event data from various sources for better threat detection and analysis.
- Intrusion Detection and Prevention: They use technologies to identify and prevent unauthorized access and malicious activities within an organization's network.
- Threat Intelligence: MSSPs stay informed about the latest threat intelligence to proactively defend against emerging threats and attack vectors.
- Compliance Support: They help organizations adhere to industry-specific regulations and standards by implementing necessary security controls.
- Security Analysis and Reporting: MSSPs provide organizations with regular reports and insights on security events, incidents, and vulnerabilities.
By outsourcing these security functions to MSSPs, organizations can focus on their core business operations while benefiting from expert cybersecurity services and proactive threat mitigation. Managed security services help organizations navigate the complex cybersecurity landscape and adapt to the evolving threat landscape more effectively.
MSP (Managed Service Provider) and MSSP (Managed Security Service Provider) are both types of service providers, but they offer different focuses and expertise within the realm of IT and cybersecurity:
MSP (Managed Service Provider):
- An MSP is a service provider that offers a range of proactive IT services to manage and maintain an organization's IT infrastructure, systems and applications. Their services often include tasks like network monitoring, software updates, data backups, hardware maintenance and help desk support. MSPs focus on ensuring the overall health and functionality of an organization's IT environment, aiming to optimize efficiency and minimize downtime.
MSSP (Managed Security Service Provider):
- An MSSP is a specialized type of service provider that focuses on delivering managed security services to protect an organization's digital assets and data from cyber threats. MSSPs provide services such as threat monitoring, intrusion detection and prevention, vulnerability assessments, incident response and security incident management. They are equipped to handle complex cybersecurity challenges, offering advanced tools, technologies and expertise to safeguard against a wide range of cyberattacks.
In essence, while both MSPs and MSSPs offer managed services, MSPs have a broader focus on IT infrastructure management, while MSSPs specifically specialize in managing and enhancing an organization's cybersecurity posture. Organizations that require comprehensive security measures and expert monitoring of cyber threats often turn to MSSPs to strengthen their defenses and respond effectively to security incidents.
Services & Tools
MDR (Managed Detection and Response) and XDR (Extended Detection and Response) are both cybersecurity approaches that focus on detecting and responding to cyber threats, but they differ in their scope and capabilities.
MDR is a managed cybersecurity service that provides organizations with continuous monitoring, threat detection and incident response capabilities. MDR providers use a combination of human expertise and advanced security technologies to detect and respond to cyber threats in real time. MDR services typically include 24/7 monitoring, threat hunting, incident investigation and response coordination.
XDR is an evolution of MDR that goes beyond individual security products and focuses on broader threat detection and response across multiple security layers. XDR solutions integrate and correlate data from various security tools, such as endpoint security, network security and cloud security, to provide a holistic view of threats. This enables XDR to detect sophisticated attacks that may involve multiple stages across different attack vectors. XDR also includes automated response capabilities to address detected threats across the organization's entire environment.
A SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) platform is a comprehensive cybersecurity solution that combines security information management (SIM) and security event management (SEM) functionalities. A SIEM system collects, aggregates and analyzes data from various sources across an organization's network, including logs, events and alerts generated by security devices, applications and systems.
The primary purpose of a SIEM is to provide real-time monitoring, threat detection and incident response capabilities. It helps security teams identify patterns, anomalies and potential security incidents by correlating data and applying rules and algorithms. SIEM platforms offer features such as log management, event correlation, automated alerting, reporting and forensic analysis, allowing organizations to proactively identify and respond to security threats.
Vulnerability management is the practice of identifying, assessing, prioritizing and mitigating vulnerabilities in software, hardware and systems within an organization's IT environment. It involves a systematic approach to discovering security weaknesses that cyberattackers could exploit. The goal of vulnerability management is to minimize the risk of potential security breaches and data breaches by addressing vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.
The vulnerability management process typically includes tasks such as vulnerability scanning, vulnerability assessment, risk assessment, remediation planning and ongoing monitoring. Vulnerability management helps organizations stay proactive in addressing security risks by identifying vulnerabilities, determining their potential impact and taking appropriate actions to either patch, update or mitigate them. This process helps organizations maintain a more secure and resilient IT infrastructure, reducing the likelihood of successful cyberattacks.
Patch management is the process of planning, testing, deploying and monitoring software updates or patches to correct vulnerabilities, improve functionality and enhance security in computer systems, applications and other software. Patches are released by software vendors to address known vulnerabilities and issues that cyberattackers could potentially exploit. Effective patch management helps organizations keep their software up-to-date, reducing the risk of security and data breaches.
The patch management process typically involves several stages, including identifying available patches, testing them in a controlled environment, deploying patches to relevant systems and monitoring for potential issues post-deployment. Timely and consistent patch management is essential to maintaining a secure IT environment, as attackers often target known vulnerabilities. This is where automation can prove invaluable, as it can streamline the process of identifying, testing and deploying software patches, thereby reducing manual errors and minimizing the window of vulnerability.
Gateway management refers to the control, monitoring and security management of network entry and exit points, often called gateways. Gateways are the points where data flows into or out of a network, connecting different networks or systems together.
Effective gateway management involves implementing security measures, such as firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, antivirus software and content filtering, to protect the network from unauthorized access, cyber threats and malware. Gateways encompass email, web and network, each serving as a frontline defense against potential cyberattacks and unauthorized data flow. Gateway management aims to ensure secure and controlled data communication between internal and external networks, safeguarding sensitive information and maintaining network integrity.
A virtual CISO (vCISO) stands for Virtual Chief Information Security Officer. It refers to a cybersecurity professional or consultant who provides Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) services to an organization part-time or remotely. A vCISO is typically engaged to provide strategic cybersecurity leadership, guidance and expertise to organizations that may not have the resources or need for a full-time, in-house CISO.
A vCISO collaborates with the organization's leadership team to develop and implement cybersecurity strategies, policies and initiatives that align with the organization's goals and risk tolerance. They assess security risks, recommend appropriate security measures, oversee incident response and provide ongoing guidance to enhance the organization's overall cybersecurity posture. By leveraging the services of a vCISO, organizations can benefit from experienced cybersecurity leadership without the commitment and costs associated with hiring a full-time CISO.
Threat hunting is a proactive cybersecurity practice that involves actively searching for signs of malicious activities, threats and vulnerabilities within an organization's network and systems. Unlike traditional security measures that rely on automated tools and predefined rules, threat hunting is a human-driven approach that involves skilled analysts investigating and analyzing data to identify potential threats that may have gone unnoticed by automated systems.
Threat hunting involves hypothesis generation, data analysis and continuous investigation to uncover hidden threats, advanced persistent threats (APTs), insider threats and emerging attack patterns. It aims to detect threats early in the attack lifecycle and prevent potential breaches. Threat hunting often involves analyzing logs, network traffic, user behaviors and other data sources to identify abnormal or suspicious activities that may indicate the presence of cyber threats. Threat hunting aims to enhance an organization's ability to detect and mitigate threats proactively, reducing the dwell time of attackers and minimizing potential damage.
Incident response is a structured approach to managing and mitigating the impact of cybersecurity incidents and breaches within an organization. It involves a coordinated set of processes, actions and strategies designed to identify, contain, eradicate and recover from security incidents promptly and effectively. The primary goal of incident response is to minimize the impact of an incident, restore normal operations and prevent further damage.
Incident response typically follows a predefined plan that outlines roles and responsibilities, communication protocols, containment measures, technical and forensic analysis, and recovery strategies. When a security incident occurs, organizations activate their incident response team, which may include IT professionals, cybersecurity experts, legal counsel, public relations personnel and other relevant stakeholders. The team works to gather information, assess the situation, contain the incident, investigate its cause and implement measures to prevent future incidents.
Incident response aims to reduce downtime, prevent data loss, protect sensitive information and maintain an organization's reputation. It also involves learning from each incident to improve future incident response strategies and enhance overall cybersecurity readiness.
A firewall is a network security device or software that acts as a barrier between a trusted internal network and untrusted external networks, such as the internet. Its primary purpose is to monitor, filter and control incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predefined security rules. Firewalls help prevent unauthorized access, data breaches and cyberattacks by enforcing access policies and filtering out malicious or unauthorized traffic.
Firewalls can be implemented at various levels within a network architecture, including hardware-based firewalls at the network perimeter and software-based firewalls on individual devices. They examine network packets and data to determine whether they should be allowed or blocked based on criteria such as source and destination IP addresses, port numbers and application protocols. Firewalls play a crucial role in protecting networks and systems from unauthorized access, cyber threats and malware by establishing a secure boundary between trusted and untrusted environments.
A security operations center (SOC) is a centralized facility or team within an organization responsible for real-time monitoring, detecting, analyzing and responding to cybersecurity threats and incidents. The primary function of a SOC is to enhance an organization's ability to protect its systems, networks, applications and data from a wide range of cyber threats, including malware, data breaches, unauthorized access and other security incidents.
SOCs play a critical role in maintaining a strong cybersecurity posture, responding to incidents effectively, and minimizing the impact of cyberattacks. They often operate around the clock and collaborate with other IT and security teams to ensure timely and coordinated responses to security threats.
SOCaaS stands for Security Operations Center as a Service. It refers to a cybersecurity service model where organizations outsource their security operations center (SOC) functions to a third-party provider. This model delivers the SOC functions as a service, providing organizations with the expertise, technology and resources needed to monitor, detect and respond to cybersecurity threats and incidents.
With SOCaaS, organizations can leverage the capabilities of an external provider to enhance their cybersecurity posture without the need to establish and manage an in-house SOC. The third-party provider offers a range of services, including 24/7 monitoring, threat detection, incident response, security analysis and access to advanced security technologies.
Benefits of SOCaaS include cost savings, rapid deployment, access to specialized cybersecurity expertise and the ability to scale resources based on the organization's needs. It allows organizations to focus on their core business activities while relying on experts to manage and defend against evolving cyber threats.
Threats & Attacks
A zero-day attack refers to a cyberattack that targets a software vulnerability that is unknown to the software vendor or developer. In other words, it takes advantage of a security flaw for which no fix or patch is available, leaving the targeted system defenseless. The term "zero-day" refers to the fact that attackers exploit the vulnerability on the same day it is discovered, leaving zero days for the software vendor to develop and release a patch.
Zero-day attacks are particularly dangerous because they can occur before organizations can protect themselves. Attackers who discover and exploit zero-day vulnerabilities may gain unauthorized access to systems, steal sensitive data, install malware or conduct other malicious activities. Such attacks are often highly targeted and can be challenging to detect and prevent.
Organizations and software vendors work to minimize the impact of zero-day attacks by maintaining robust cybersecurity practices, promptly patching known vulnerabilities, and investing in threat detection and response mechanisms to identify and mitigate attacks as quickly as possible.
Visit our blog to get updates on the latest zero-day attacks you should know about.
The cybersecurity kill chain, often referred to as the cyberattack kill chain, is a model that outlines the stages that cyberattackers typically go through when conducting a successful cyberattack. The concept was developed to help organizations understand and counteract the steps attackers take to breach their systems and compromise their data. The kill chain model assists in identifying points of intervention and developing effective defense strategies.
The stages of the cybersecurity kill chain typically include:
- Reconnaissance: Attackers gather information about the target organization, such as identifying potential vulnerabilities and entry points.
- Weaponization: Attackers create or acquire the necessary tools (malware, exploits) to deliver and initiate the attack.
- Delivery: Attackers deliver the weaponized payload to the target, often through methods like phishing emails, malicious websites or infected documents.
- Exploitation: Attackers execute the weaponized payload to take advantage of vulnerabilities in the target's systems or applications.
- Installation: Malware or malicious code is installed and executed on the victim's systems, establishing a foothold for further access.
- Command and Control (C2): Attackers establish communication channels between the compromised systems and their control infrastructure to maintain control.
- Actions on Objectives: Attackers achieve their primary goal, which could include data exfiltration, unauthorized access or system disruption.
Alert fatigue refers to a state in which individuals, particularly those in IT and cybersecurity roles, become overwhelmed and desensitized to the large volume of security alerts, notifications and alarms generated by security systems and tools. It occurs when the sheer number of alerts, many of which may be false positives or low-priority events, leads to decreased attention, decreased responsiveness and a diminished ability to effectively distinguish critical alerts from non-critical ones.
Alert fatigue can have significant negative impacts on an organization's cybersecurity posture, including:
- Missed Threats: When security professionals are inundated with alerts, they may miss or overlook genuine security threats or indicators of compromise.
- Decreased Morale: The constant barrage of alerts can lead to frustration and decreased job satisfaction among security team members.
- Reduced Efficiency: Responding to numerous false positives and low-priority alerts consumes valuable time and resources, diverting attention from genuine threats.
- Increased Risk: Critical alerts can get lost in the noise, resulting in delayed or inadequate responses to security incidents.
The FTC Safeguards Rule– which originally went into effect in 2003 under the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) – requires financial institutions (including automotive dealers) to put in place measures that keep customer information secure. The rule classifies auto dealers as financial institutions because they offer financing agreements. Note that this Safeguards Rule is distinct from the Privacy Rule under the GLBA. The Privacy Rule addresses how institutions and dealers share information about consumers who obtain or apply for credit or lease products from them. The Safeguards Rule addresses how these entities must protect that consumer information.
On October 27, 2021, the FTC issued its final amendments to the rule to address “recent high-profile data breaches.” The rule amendments include a substantial number of new and expanded procedural, technical and personnel requirements that financial institutions, including automotive dealers, must satisfy to meet their information security obligations. At a high level, the rule is not as flexible as it used to be around data security. Now it mandates that all financial institutions (including dealers) must satisfy a list of requirements regardless of their size, systems, or the types or scope of data they maintain. You can find out more about the rule here.
Cyber insurance, also known as cybersecurity insurance or cyber liability insurance, is a type of insurance coverage designed to help organizations mitigate the financial risks associated with cyberattacks, data breaches and other cybersecurity incidents. Cyber insurance policies provide financial protection and support to organizations in the event of a cyber-related incident that results in financial losses, including costs related to data breaches, legal expenses, regulatory fines, notification expenses and potential lawsuits.
Privileged Access Management (PAM) is a cybersecurity practice that involves controlling and managing the access and permissions of privileged users within an organization. Privileged users typically include administrators, IT staff and others with elevated access rights to critical systems, applications and sensitive data. PAM focuses on securing and monitoring these privileged accounts to prevent unauthorized access and reduce the risk of insider threats and cyberattacks.
Multifactor authentication (MFA) is a security mechanism that enhances the authentication process by requiring users to provide two or more distinct forms of verification before they can access a system, application or online account. MFA adds an extra layer of security beyond traditional single-factor authentication (usually a password) to prevent unauthorized access, data breaches and account compromises.
The three commonly used factors in MFA are:
- Something You Know: This is typically a password or PIN that only the user should know.
- Something You Have: This refers to a physical device that the user possesses, such as a smartphone, security token or smart card.
- Something You Are: This involves biometric data, such as a fingerprint, facial scan or iris scan, which is unique to the user.
To authenticate using MFA, a user must provide at least two of these factors. For example, after entering a password (something they know), they might also need to provide a one-time code generated on their smartphone (something they have) to complete the authentication process.